HELP US KEEP YOU INFORMED The Prison Policy Initiative works hard to organize all of the research about the criminal justice system so that you can find it and use it in your work. Can you help us grow this essential service?

Thank you for supporting an educated and informed movement.

Pretrial Detention

Exploring cost and outcome of detaining people before trial or deportation (ie. instead of bail or other alternatives)

  • Assessing Potential Impacts of 2020 Bail Reforms in New York City Data Collaborative for Justice, September, 2019“Had the 2020 Bail Reforms been in place in 2018, 20,349 of the 31,609 cases where bail was set would have resulted in release without bail.”
  • New York, New York: Highlights of the 2019 Bail Reform Law Vera Institute of Justice, July, 2019“If implemented effectively, a conservative estimate of the legislation's impact suggests that New York can expect at least a 40 percent reduction overall in the state's pretrial jail population.”
  • Paid in Full: A Plan to End Money Injustice in New Orleans Vera Institute of Justice, June, 2019“Money injustice is deeply unfair and harmful to those directly impacted, exacerbates poverty and racial inequality, wastes scarce taxpayer dollars, and does not deliver the safety all people value.”
  • The Immediate Consequences of Federal Pretrial Detention Stephanie Holmes Didwania, June, 2019“Using data spanning 71 federal district courts, I find that pretrial release reduces a defendant's sentence length by around 67 percent and increases the probability that a defendant will receive a sentence below the recommended sentencing range.”
  • Disparate Justice: Where Kentuckians Live Determines Whether They Stay in Jail Because They Can't Afford Cash Bail Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, June, 2019“In certain counties, people with low incomes face much higher risk of harms from being detained in jail ranging from job loss to higher likelihoods of being found guilty and committing crimes in the future.”
  • Bail Reform in New York: Legislative Provisions and Implications for New York City Center for Court Innovation, April, 2019“In New York City, 43 percent of the almost 5,000 people detained pretrial on April 1, 2019 would have been released under the new legislation. Outside of New York City, the effects could be even greater.”
  • Pretrial Release Without Money: New York City, 1987-2018 New York City Criminal Justice Agency, March, 2019“In 2018 there were more than three times as many releases without money than money bails.”
  • Evaluation of Pretrial Justice System Reforms That Use the Public Safety Assessment: Effects in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina MDRC, March, 2019“Mecklenburg County substantially reduced its use of money bail and detained fewer defendants, without sacrificing public safety or court appearance rates.”
  • Evaluating the Impacts of Eliminating Prosecutorial Requests for Cash Bail Aurelie Ouss and Megan T. Stevenson, February, 2019“In spite of this large decrease in the fraction of defendants having monetary incentives to show up to court, we detect no change in failure-to-appear in court or in recidivism.”
  • Bail and Pretrial Detention: Contours and Causes of Temporal and County Variation Katherine Hood and Daniel Schneider, February, 2019“The politicization of judicial offices, partisan affiliations of district attorneys and governors, income inequality, unemployment rates, and the size of the black population all seem to be related to bail-setting practices.”
  • Impact of Risk Assessment on Judges' Fairness in Sentencing Relatively Poor Defendants Jennifer L. Skeem, Nicholas Scurich, and John Monahan, January, 2019“When risk assessment information was added to these cases, judges were more likely to sentence the relatively poor defendant to incarceration than his more affluent counterpart.”
  • Examining Judicial Pretrial Release Decisions: The Influence of Risk Assessments and Race Brian P. Schaefer and Tom Hughes,, January, 2019“The findings indicate that Black, moderate or high risk felony arrestees are more likely to be required to post a financial bond than non-financial bond compared to their White or lower risk counterparts.”
  • Where Pretrial Improvements Are Happening Pretrial Justice Institute, January, 2019“There are many ways jurisdictions can improve pretrial systems and the outcomes they produce without introducing new laws or amending state constitutions. Simply changing practice within existing legal structures can create immediate and positive results.”
  • The Economics of Bail and Pretrial Detention The Hamilton Project, December, 2018“Pretrial detention has a substantially negative economic impact on individuals, disrupting their labor market activities and causing increased recidivism.”
  • Unequal Treatment: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Miami-Dade Criminal Justice ACLU Florida Greater Miami, July, 2018(This report finds that from arrest to sentencing, racial disparities exist at each decision point in the Miami-Dade County's criminal justice system.)
  • The Impact of Early Representation: An Analysis of the San Francisco Public Defender's Pre-Trial Release Unit California Policy Lab, June, 2018(In October 2017, the San Francisco Public Defender's Office piloted the Pre-Trial Release Unit (PRU) which doubled the likelihood of release at arraignment - from 14% to 28% - for arrestees who received arrest-responsive interventions from the PRU.)
  • Open Roads and Overflowing Jails: Addressing High Rates of Rural Pretrial Incarceration Right On Crime, May, 2018(This report examines the contributors to rural pretrial incarceration and makes evidence-based recommendations to improve public safety while reducing the number of defendants held pretrial.)
  • Racial Bias in Bail Decisions David Arnold, Will Dobbie, and Crystal S. Yang, April, 2018“Estimates from Miami and Philadelphia show that bail judges are racially biased against black defendants, with substantially more racial bias among both inexperienced and part-time judges.”
  • Presumed Innocent for a Price: The Impact of Cash Bail Across Eight New York Counties New York Civil Liberties Union, March, 2018(This report shows that over a five year period, tens of thousands of New Yorkers were jailed without having had their day in court simply because they could not pay bail.)
  • Cuyahoga County Bail Task Force: Report and Recommendations Cuyahoga County Bail Task Force, March, 2018(Money bail should not be used to simply detain defendants. Rather than relying on bond schedules, courts should assess each defendant's risk of non-appearance and danger to the community using a uniform risk assessment tool.)
  • Advancing Bail Reform in Maryland: Progress and Possibilities Baltimore City and Prince George's County Branches of the NAACP, February, 2018“This report argues that Maryland policymakers should continue to strengthening the alternatives to bail and pretrial detention.”
  • The Effects of Pretrial Detention on Conviction, Future Crime, and Employment: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Judges Will Dobbie, Jacob Goldin, and Crystal S. Yang, January, 2018(We find that pretrial detention significantly increases the probability of conviction, primarily through an increase in guilty pleas. It has no net effect on future crime, but decreases formal sector employment and the receipt of some government benefits.)
  • The Price for Freedom: Bail in the City of L.A. Million Dollar Hoods, December, 2017(The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), using the Los Angeles County Superior Court's misdemeanor and felony bail schedules, levied over $19 billion in money bail on persons they arrested between 2012 and 2016.)
  • Empire State of Incarceration Vera Institute of Justice, December, 2017(This report analyzes county-level factors that lead people to jail in New York state, providing a deeper understanding of the drivers of local incarceration.)
  • Yakima County, Washington Pretrial Justice System Improvements: Pre- and Post- Implementation Analysis Smart Pretrial Demonstration Initiative, November, 2017“Jurisdiction can reduce pretrial detention & improve racial/ethnic equity by replacing high use of secured money bail with non-financial release conditions guided by actuarial-risk-based decision making, with no harm to public safety or court appearance.”
  • Economic Impacts of Cash Bail on the City of Philadelphia City of Philadelphia Office of the Controller, October, 2017(The City of Philadelphia, by eliminating the cash bail system, could save over $75 million annually and provide a viable alternative to jail for a significant number of those arrested in Philadelphia in a given year.)
  • Pretrial Detention Reform: Recommendations to the Chief Justice Judicial Branch of California Pretrial Detention Reform Workgroup, October, 2017(California's pretrial detention system unnecessarily compromises victim & public safety because it bases a person's liberty on financial resources, not their likelihood of future criminal behavior, exacerbating socioeconomic disparities & racial bias.)
  • Punishment Is Not a "Service": The Injustice of Pretrial Conditions in Cook County Chicago Community Bond Fund, October, 2017“The overwhelming experience of people supported by CCBF shows that pretrial conditions expand and compound the harms of incarceration by denying people access to their jobs, housing, social supports, and even medical care.”
  • The Effects of Pre-Trial Detention on Conviction, Future Crime, and Employment: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Judges Will Dobbie, Jacob Goldin, and Crystal S. Yang, September, 2017(Pre-trial detention significantly increases the probability of conviction, primarily through increases in guilty pleas. Pre-trial detention has no net effect on future crime, but decreases employment & the receipt of certain government benefits.)
  • Against the Odds: Experimenting with Alternative Forms of Bail in New York City's Criminal Courts Vera Institute of Justice, September, 2017“If New York City courts opted more frequently for alternative forms of bail, they could potentially reduce the use of pretrial detention without compromising other important considerations of compliance with court appearances and public safety.”
  • The Unintended Impact of Pretrial Detention on Case Outcomes: Evidence from New York City Arraignments Emily Leslie and Nolan G. Pope, August, 2017“Our results indicate a strong causal relationship between pretrial detention and case outcomes. We see consistent evidence that detainees plead guilty more often to more serious offenses and some evidence that they serve longer sentences.”
  • Out of Sight: The Growth of Jails in Rural America Vera Institute of Justice, June, 2017“America’s 3,283 local jails are the “front door” to mass incarceration, but for too long have grown outside of public view. Our latest analysis reveals an unexpected finding: there has been a dramatic shift in the geography of incarceration.”
  • The Devil in the Details: Bail Bond Contracts in California UCLA School of Law, May, 2017“After analyzing the fine print in more than 100 contract documents online corresponding to 10 sureties, we identified 20 problems with bail bond contracts that violate common notions of fairness and justice.”
  • Examining Racial Disparities in Criminal Case Outcomes among Indigent Defendants in San Francisco The Quattrone Center & The University of Pennsylvania Law School, May, 2017“Our analysis revealed that Black, White and Latinx indigent defendants in San Francisco have substantially different experiences during the criminal adjudication process.”
  • Bail Reform in California UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, May, 2017(This report examines California's system of commercial surety bail, recommending that it be replaced with risk assessment tools and non-bail release to improve predictive accuracy, race neutrality, and other outcomes such as fiscal impact.)
  • report thumbnail Era of Mass Expansion: Why State Officials Should Fight Jail Growth Prison Policy Initiative, May, 2017“In most states over the last three decades, the number of people in jails has outpaced population growth by 2, 3 or even 4 times. In 12 states, the jail population has grown more than 3 times faster than the general population.”
  • Selling Off Our Freedom: How insurance corporations have taken over our bail system Color of Change and the American Civil Liberties Union, May, 2017“Fewer than 10 insurance companies are behind a significant majority of bonds issued by as many as 25,000 bail bond agents.”
  • "Not in it for Justice": How California's Pretrial Detention and Bail System Unfairly Punishes Poor People Human Rights Watch, April, 2017“Nearly every offense in California is bail-eligible, yet many defendants cannot afford to pay. In California, the majority of county jail prisoners have not been sentenced, but are serving time because they are unable to pay for pretrial release.”
  • How California's Pretrial Detention and Bail System Unfairly Punishes Poor People Human Rights Watch, April, 2017“In six California counties examined in detail in this report, the total cost of jailing people whom the prosecutor never charged or who had charges dropped or dismissed was $37.5 million over two years.”
  • New York City's Pretrial Supervised Release Program: An Alternative to Bail Vera Institute of Justice, April, 2017“The supervised release program (SR) in NYC is an example of a new approach to handling cases pretrial. SR gives judges the option to release some defendants who would otherwise be detained due to their inability to make bail.”
  • Pretrial Justice: How Much Does It Cost Pretrial Justice Institute, January, 2017“The evidence shows that current pretrial practices--especially those that use money bail and over-use jail beds for lower risk people--are needlessly expensive and doesn’t produce positive results.”
  • Emptying the 'New Asylums': A Beds Capacity Model to Reduce Mental Illness Behind Bars Treatment Advocacy Center, January, 2017“In Texas, reducing the average hospital stay from 189 days to 186 days would reduce forensic bed waits from an average of two months to three days.”
  • Moving Beyond Money: A Primer on Bail Reform Criminal Justice Policy Program, Harvard Law School, October, 2016“When pretrial detention depends on whether someone can afford to pay a cash bond, two otherwise similar pretrial defendants will face vastly different outcomes based merely on their wealth.”
  • Every 25 Seconds: The Human Toll of Criminalizing Drug Use in the United States Human Rights Watch and the ACLU, October, 2016“More than one of every nine arrests by state law enforcement is for drug possession, amounting to more than 1.25 million arrests each year.”
  • Use of Electronic Offender-Tracking Devices Expands Sharply The Pew Charitable Trusts, September, 2016“In 2015, manufacturers reported that about 88,000 GPS units were being used for supervision of accused and convicted offenders, a thirtyfold increase from the roughly 2,900 reported a decade earlier.”
  • Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2016 Prison Policy Initiative, March, 2016(The American criminal justice system holds more than 2.3 million people in thousands of facilities, and we go deeper to provide further detail on where and why.)
  • Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2015 Prison Policy Initiative, December, 2015(The U.S. locks up more than 2.3 million people in prisons, jails, and other facilities on any given day.)
  • Exploring the Potential for Pretrial Innovation in Massachusetts MassINC, September, 2015“Since 2008, the state’s pretrial population has grown by nearly 13 percent, while arrests have declined by 10 percent and the number of commitments annually to state prisons and county houses of correction has fallen by 22 percent.”
  • Pretrial Detention and Jail Capacity in California Public Policy Institute of California, July, 2015“But California’s high rates of pretrial detention have not been associated with lower rates of failure to appear or lower levels of felony rearrests.”
  • San Francisco Justice Reinvestment Initiative: Racial and ethnic disparities analysis for the reentry council The W. Haywood Burns Institute for Juvenile Justice Fairness & Equity, June, 2015“Black adults are 7.1 times as likely as White adults to be arrested, 11 times as likely to be booked into County Jail, and 10.3 times as likely to be convicted of a crime in San Francisco.”
  • Pretrial Release in California Public Policy Institute of California, May, 2015“This report uses newly available data to provide information about pretrial release in California and to give policymakers a better understanding of the defendants who tend to be released and the form of release they secure.”
  • Effect of Pretrial Detention in Oregon Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, 2015“After controlling for several factors (e.g., criminal history), our analyses reveal that detained defendants were more than twice as likely to be incarcerated as part of their sentence compared to those who were released prior to their disposition..”
  • World Pre-trial/Remand Imprisonment List: Third Edition Institute for Criminal Policy Research, 2015“Close to three million [people are] held in pre-trial detention and other forms of remand imprisonment throughout the world.”
  • "Money Bail": Making Ohio a More Dangerous Place to Live The Buckeye Institute, 2015“Ohio should address the demonstrated shortcomings of the cash bail system by expanding the judiciary’s access to proven risk-assessment tools that can provide a fairer, more efficient way to keep our communities safe and secure.”
  • Presumption of Guilt: The Global Overuse of Pretrial Detention Open Society Justice Initiative, September, 2014“The present global cohort of 3.3 million pretrial detainees will collectively spend an estimated 660 million days in detention-a terrible waste of human potential that comes at a considerable cost to states, taxpayers, families, and communities.”
  • Race and Prosecution in Manhattan Vera Institute of Justice, July, 2014(Blacks and Latinos were particularly likely to be held in pretrial detention for misdemeanor person offenses, followed by misdemeanor drug offenses. Blacks and Latinos were also most likely to have their cases dismissed for misdemeanor drug offenses.)
  • Inside Out Questionable and Abusive Practices in New Jersey's Bail-Bond Industry State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation, May, 2014“The result is a disorderly process driven by private profit rather than public interest and one that is dangerously out of balance when it comes to both the rights of the defendents and the requirements of the criminal justice system.”
  • Exploring the Impact of Supervision on Pretrial Outcomes Laura and John Arnold Foundation, November, 2013“Defendants supervised pretrial for more than 180 days were 12% to 36% less likely to commit new crimes before case disposition.”
  • Investigating the Impact of Pretrial Detention on Sentencing Outcomes Laura and John Arnold Foundation, November, 2013“Low-risk defendants who are detained for the entire pretrial period are 5.41 times more likely to be sentenced to jail and 3.76 times more likely to be sentenced to prison when compared to low-risk defendants who are released ... before trial...”
  • The Hidden Costs of Pretrial Detention Laura and John Arnold Foundation, November, 2013“When held 8-14 days, low-risk defendants are 51 percent more likely to commit another crime within two years after completion of their cases than equivalent defendants held no more than 24 hours.”
  • Assessing Pretrial Risk without a Defendant Interview Laura and John Arnold Foundation, November, 2013“Less than 10% of judicial officers across the country use pretrial risk assessment tools to make these decisions, in part because they require costly and time-consuming defendant interviews.”
  • Are Immigration Detainer Practices Rational? Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, September, 2013“According to these data, an undocumented foreign national with a traffic offense is more likely to be booked into ICE detention than one with a homicide, forcible rape, robbery, or aggravated assault offense.”
  • Pretrial Detention And Misconduct In Federal District Courts, 1995-2010 Bureau of Justice Statistics, February, 2013“The number of defendants with cases disposed in federal district courts more than doubled from 45,635 in 1995 to 100,622 in 2010.”
  • Addressing Racial Disparities In Bail Determinations New York University Journal of Legislation and Public Policy, 2013“...Seventy-five percent of pretrial detainees are charged with relatively minor property crimes, drug offenses or other non-violent acts, and remain in jail simply because the money bond was set in an amount they cannot afford to pay.”
  • Sheriffs' Offices, 2007 Bureau of Justice Statistics, December, 2012“From 1987 to 2007, the number of full-time employees in sheriffs' offices increased from about 189,000 to more than 346,000”
  • The Texas Commission on Jail Standards: The State's Solution for Implementing A Strong County Jail System While Protecting Counties From Liability Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, November, 2012“Texas Commission on Jail Standards guards Texas counties from damaging lawsuits, specifically by setting constitutional jail standards for counties to follow, conducting facility inspections, and enforcing compliance with rules and procedures.”
  • Bail Fail Why the U.S. Should End the Practice of Using Money for Bail Justice Policy Institute, September, 2012“Although judges and judicial officers may deny or simply not be aware of any racial bias [...], there is strong evidence that these bail decision makers consider the lost freedom caused by pretrial detention to be a greater loss for whites than for blacks”
  • A Decade of Bail Research in New York City New York City Criminal Justice Agency, Inc., August, 2012“Defendants who are detained pretrial are more likely to be convicted, if convicted they are more likely to be sentenced to incarceration, and if incarcerated, their sentences are likely to be longer.”
  • Exploring Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) for Women in Massachusetts Wellesley Centers for Women, July, 2011“As stated previously, the reason that many women are held in the ATU at MCI-F is because they lacked the financial resources to secure bail set as low as $50.00.”
  • Pre-Trial Detention of Dangerous and Violent Defendants Following Passage of the Omnibus Public Safety Justice Amendment Act of 2009 Urban Institute, 2011“We find a steady increase from 2007 through 2010 in the probability of detention for dangerous and violent defendants without associated weapons charges, on public safety grounds.”
  • The Price of Freedom Bail and Pretrial Detention of Low Income Nonfelony Defendants in New York City Human Rights Watch, December, 2010“People should not have to endure jail simply because they are too poor to buy their way out, particularly when there are other ways of ensuring that such defendants make their scheduled court appearances.”
  • Baltimore Behind Bars How to Reduce the Jail Population, Save Money, and Improve Public Safety Justice Policy Institute, June, 2010“9 out of 10 people in the [Baltimore] jail are awaiting trial, compared to about 2 out of 3 in the rest of the country. [Reducing] the number of people held pretrial in a safe and effective way can greatly reduce the jail population & associated costs.”
  • Philadelphia's Crowded, Costly Jails: The Search for Safe Solutions Pew Charitable Trusts, May, 2010
  • Efficiency and Cost: The Impact of Videoconferenced Hearings on Bail Decisions Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 2010“We find a sharp increase in the average amount of bail set in cases subject to the video conferencing, but no change in cases that continued to have live hearings.”
  • World Pre-trial/Remand Imprisonment List Pre-trail detainees and other remand prisoners in all five continents International Centre for Prison Studies, January, 2008“..this List refers to those persons who, in connection with an alleged offence or offences, are deprived of their liberty following a judicial or other legal process but have not been definitively sentenced by a court for the offence(s).”
  • Pretrial Release of Felony Defendants in State Courts Bureau of Justice Statistics, November, 2007“Presents findings on the pretrial release phase of the criminal justice process using data collected from a representative sample of felony cases filed in the 75 largest U.S. counties in May during even-numbered years from 1990 to 2004.”("About 3 in 5 felony defendants in the 75 largest counties were released prior to the disposition of their case.")
  • Getting Away with Torture? Command Responsibility for the U.S. Abuse of Detainees Human Rights Watch, April, 2005
  • Community-Based Treatment: The Impact of the Homeless Pretrial Release Project Justice Policy Institute, June, 2000
  • Federal Pretrial Release and Detention, 1996 Bureau of Justice Statistics, February, 1999
  • Pretrial Release of Felony Defendants, 1992: National Pretrial Reporting Program Bureau of Justice Statistics, November, 1994

Pages Updated On: 13-Nov-2019 - 09:45:48
Links Engine 2.0 By: Gossamer Threads Inc.

Stay Informed

Get the latest updates:

Tweet this page Donate